Silent Pink + Peach Pink ,2018/2021
Silent Pink is a light pink shade, a synthesis of observations and historical research made in Shanghai, China. Even though pink seems omnipresent in Chinese culture, art, history and modern daily life, it is not talked about as a colour; there is no word for the colour pink in Mandarin - it is a “silent colour”. In Chinese characters, pink is described as; powder red or powder colour, red grey, crape myrtle colour, rose or peach colour.
Curiously, pink is used in Chinese paintings as early as the 15th century. In early works, black ink lines and distinguished brushstrokes dominate, and use of colour is rare. Cinnabar and azurite were the first commonly used minerals to manufacture red and blue pigments The most popular subjects in Chinese paintings were scenes of daily life, landscapes, flowers and birds. Quite often, women, noble figures and flowers were tinted with a hue of cinnabar, which appears as a light pink on paper.
Pink is also found on Jingdezhen porcelain ware, for example the traditional “nine peach” design vase and the vase with Fencai design of eight immortals, both from the Qianlong reign during the Qing dynasty between 1736 and 1795.
In the 20th and 21st centuries, pink is widely used in advertisements, on poster designs, and various propagandistic paintings and illustrations.
Peach Pink is modeled after a pot of pink colour, which I bought at the art market in Shanghai, China. The pink colour is very vivid, similar to the Exposed Bright Pink and is described as 桃红色 táo hóng sè. Looking up the characters in the dictionary, I found the following description; 桃红 táo hóng 像桃花的颜色 (xiàng táohuā de yánsè); 粉红 (fěnhóng) pink; colour of the peach flower.1 By looking at the three characters isolated, one finds the words; 桃 peach 红 red 色colour.
Peach pink in western culture is named after the pale colour of the peach fruit. That is where my research leads: to the question surrounding the extent of which the definitions of colours are the same in different languages. Perry Link, the author of An Anatomy of Chinese - Rhythm, Metaphor, Politics states: “…for example, the term 黄huáng does not correspond well to any English word. Dictionaries cite “yellow”, but huáng covers much more of the spectrum than yellow does. It begins with yellow, spans all of tan and goes pretty far into brown.”2
1 The Contemporary Chinese Dictionary, Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press, 2002
2 Perry Link “An Anatomy of Chinese - Rhythm, Metaphor, Politics”, Harvard University Press, 2013, p. 148